Monday, February 15, 2016

The Elephant in the Room is Finally Recognized
The elephant in the room has finally been recognized. The words Ukraine, Russia, Putin, aggression and NATO were raised during the latest round of debates among six Republic presidential hopefuls in Ashville, SC, on Saturday, February 13.
Not that their conclusions and remarks will lead to significant changes in America’s policies towards Ukraine, but, at least, the villain and victim received a hearing.
The first to bring up this topic that is dear to the hearts of many American voters was Sen. Marco Rubio. He said the third major topic that he would tackle if elected President of the USA would be “rebuilding and reinvigorating NATO in the European theater, particularly in Central Europe and in Eastern Europe, where Vladimir Putin is now threatening the territory of multiple countries, already controls 20% of Georgia and a significant percentage of Ukraine.”
Rubio, whose website elaborates on his plan to “Defend and Restore Ukrainian Sovereignty” and “Protect Europe from Further Russian Aggression,” states he would bolster NATO as a major bulwark against Putin’s belligerent adventurism. He also reminded voters that Putin occupies “significant” portions of Ukraine.
Gov. John Kasich of Ohio then picked up the baton by replying to CBS’ John Dickerson’s question about his wanting to punch Russia in the nose for moving into Crimea and eastern Ukraine, saying: “Yes. First of all, look, we have to make it clear to Russia what we expect. We don’t have to declare an enemy, rattle a sword or threaten, but we need to make it clear what we expect. Number one is we will arm the folks in Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom. They deserve it. There will be no ifs, ands or buts about it.
“Secondly, an attack on NATO, trumped up on any excuse of Russian-speaking people, either in the NATO countries or in Finland or Sweden is going to be an attack on us. And look, I think we have an opportunity as America to put something really great together again.”
Arming Ukraine is a great first step because it will help Kyiv repel Russian invaders from Ukraine. The Republican presidential candidates and the free world should understand that Ukraine is the first country in recent memory to stand up to invading armies from Russia and – as Kasich said – Ukrainians “deserve it.”
Ukrainians deserve a lot more than military aid from the western democracies. They serve economic and commercial support, civic consultation and understanding that two dozen years after proclaiming its independence and sovereignty from Russian captivity it is again fighting the same powerful external foe that bred the internal enemy of corruption.
Kasich’s observation contains a detraction in his assurance that America doesn’t “have to declare an enemy.” On the contrary, Washington must declare Moscow an enemy for its aggression and violations of human rights of its citizens. Without the admission that it is an enemy, some will regard Russia as such while others will shake its hand and seek to do business with it. That would certainly be the wrong message to the Kremlin.
Jeb Bush, whose father, President George H. Bush, was leader of the free world when Ukraine declared its independence prompting him to observe that he would not recognize countries making such declarations in the basement, castigated Vladimir Putin by emphasizing “The very basic fact is that Vladimir Putin is not going to be an ally of the United States. The whole world knows this. It’s a simple basic fact.”
Bush also took a jab at Donald Trump for wanting to accommodate Russia – “It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that Russia could be a positive partner in this.” Trump reaffirmed his easy-going attitude toward Putin by nonchalantly stating “I like him so far, I have to tell you.” Trump is already known for making similar positive remarks about Putin a few times during this election season.
Do these meager but to be sure welcome comments by presidential aspirants bode well for the plight of the x-captive nations in the face of consistent Russian aggression? Unfortunately not. They have not reach a political critical mass that would resonate among friends and foes alike and force Moscow to take note that the next leader of the free world – regardless of who he or she will be – will not be as tolerant of its warlike designs as the current one is.
The x-captive nations community of American voters must press the case on behalf of their besieged ancestral homelands.
During the days of the evil empire, Eastern European Americans and their supporters, organized groups such as the American Friends of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, National Captive Nations Committee, World Anti-Communist League and their national affiliations and would lobby both sides of the political aisle with a strong, straightforward message: Free the captive nations! And Washington listened.
In the Ukrainian American community, civic leaders such as the late Joseph Lesawyer on the Democratic side and the late Lev Dobriansky on the Republican side mobilized partisan advocates to force inclusion of appropriate pro-captive nations and anti-Soviet planks in the parties’ platforms.
The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and its Ukrainian National Information Service have detected this current dangerous state of affairs and are urging Ukrainian Americans – and by association all Eastern European American voters – to convince elected officials and candidates as well as news media to place Russia’s war against Ukraine and the occupation of Ukrainian territories on the political agenda.
“Now six months into the debate process, while some candidates have formulated substantive policy positions regarding Putin’s criminal regime, and others have quietly chosen to defer making any such decisions, we call on debate moderators and journalists covering the US presidential campaigns to question the remaining candidates on their positions regarding this rogue nation which US military commanders have gone on record to describe as ‘the greatest threat to our national security.’ It is unacceptable that throughout twelve presidential primary debates thus far, the number of questions asked relating to Putin, Russia or Ukraine can be counted on one hand,” the UCCA statement said.
“The US Presidential candidate selection process has now begun in earnest, with the first votes having been cast in Iowa. Today, there are more Ukrainians living amid the ruin of war than there are people living in the entire state of Iowa. And we, Ukrainians, Americans and allies united in seeking safer future for all mankind, ask for your assistance in getting this issue included in the upcoming debate schedule. Candidates should be asked to lay out their foreign policy agenda as it relates to Putin’s kleptocratic regime in Russia, and to address the first military annexation in Europe since World War II. Will any candidates for the position of “Leader of the Free World” call out Putin for his numerous political assassinations, or mention the name of Iraq War veteran Lieutenant Nadiya Savchenko and others illegally held by Russia, and call for their immediate release?”
At a time of war against Ukraine and potentially all x-captive nations, Eastern European American civic organizations should form alliances for the purpose of awakening Democratic and Republic presidential hopefuls against policies that would accommodate Russia or warm up to Moscow and Putin. This is not the time for pragmatism and responsibility, which are synonymous with placating Russia.
For the sake of the x-captive nations and the free world, the platforms of the Democratic Party and Republican Party must contain planks that proclaim unwavering support for their independence and territorial inviolability and condemn Russia for its current belligerence.